Spine growth in the anterior cingulate cortex is necessary for the consolidation of contextual fear memory

Gisella Vetere, Leonardo Restivo, Christina J. Cole, P. Joel Ross, Martine Ammassari-Teule, Sheena A. Josselyn, Paul W. Frankland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Remodeling of cortical connectivity is thought to allow initially hippocampus-dependent memories to be expressed independently of the hippocampus at remote time points. Consistent with this, consolidation of a contextual fear memory is associated with dendritic spine growth in neurons of the anterior cingulate cortex (aCC). To directly test whether such cortical structural remodeling is necessary for memory consolidation, we disrupted spine growth in the aCC at different times following contextual fear conditioning in mice. We took advantage of previous studies showing that the transcription factor myocyte enhancer factor 2 (MEF2) negatively regulates spinogenesis both in vitro and in vivo. We found that increasing MEF2-dependent transcription in the aCC during a critical posttraining window (but not at later time points) blocked both the consolidation-associated dendritic spine growth and subsequent memory expression. Together, these data strengthen the causal link between cortical structural remodeling and memory consolidation and, further, identify MEF2 as a key regulator of these processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8456-8460
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - May 17 2011


  • Remote memory
  • Structural plasticity
  • Viral vector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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